Does prenatal care increase access to child immunization? Gender bias among children in India
Prenatal care appears to serve as a trigger in increasing the chances for access to subsequent health care services. Although several previous studies have investigated this connection, none have focused specifically on how parents' behavior differs before and after learning the gender of their babies. Investigating parents' behavioral changes after the child's birth provides a quasi-natural experiment with which to test the gender discrimination hypothesis. This issue was examined here, using a rich family health survey data set from India. We find evidence for the triggering effect of prenatal care on immunization only among rural boys, but we find no compelling evidence for this effect among other sub-samples. This finding suggests two things, which are not mutually exclusive. One is that the information spillover from prenatal care has a much larger impact in rural areas, where alternative sources of information are scarce, compared with urban areas. The other is that the sex of a child is a critical factor in producing different levels of health care behavior in rural areas, where sons are favored and more valued than in urban areas.
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Volume (Year): 63 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
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